by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden’s half-century of foreign policy experience was once considered a political strength, one of his 2020 campaign arguments against former President Donald Trump.
But four years later, and as the family and friends of the three Army reservists killed during an Iran-backed drone attack in Jordan near Syria grapple with their losses, Biden’s political strength could become a weakness before the 2024 election, and it is one Trump has already sought to leverage amid concerns the Israel-Hamas war will escalate into a wider conflict.
Biden’s foreign policy experience, built up during his membership and then his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was, in part, why former President Barack Obama, then a first-term senator, tapped Biden to be his vice president in 2008 — so Biden could counter Obama’s relative international inexperience.
However, although Biden’s administration was originally preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, since his deadly withdrawal of personnel and equipment from Afghanistan, Biden’s presidency has become defined by his foreign policy regarding China, Russia, and now Iran. His includes liberal Democrats worried about Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and Democratic lawmakers expressing their lack of confidence in his congressional authority to respond to the Iran-sponsored attacks.
Biden’s “abandonment” of Afghanistan, against military advice, has been “a low point” of his administration, according to Elliott Abrams, a national security official for former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Trump.
“But equally low has been three years of absorbing the attacks of Iranian proxy groups without ever forcing Iran to pay a price,” Abrams, a Council on Foreign Relations Middle East senior fellow, said of the 100-plus attacks. “That’s why the expansion of the Gaza war is a problem — because Iran, which is behind the expansion, has not at all been deterred and has been helping and urging its proxies to attack the U.S. and our allies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Israel.”